On behalf of Attorney David L. Zerbe on Sunday, February 10, 2019.
In many situations, parents will come to an agreement outside of court about custody arrangements for their child. However, if it is not possible for you and your child’s other parent to reach an agreement, a judge will decide on a custody arrangement based on your child’s best interests.
Custody can be physical or legal, meaning it can determine where the child lives or who has the authority to make decisions about the child’s upbringing. Physical and legal custody can each be granted to one or both parents. Courts often favor joint physical and legal custody arrangements because it tends to benefit the child to maintain a healthy relationship with both parents.
Factors that affect best interests
The best interests of your child are determined through consideration of all relevant factors. Many factors can be considered relevant, including your child’s:
- Relationship with family members
- Adjustment to home, school and the community
The court may also consider the mental and physical health of you, the other parent and your child, as well as any pattern of domestic violence. It will probably also consider who your child’s primary caregiver has been and your child’s wishes, if your child is at least 14 years old.
Because so many factors are considered when determining a child’s best interests, sometimes it can be difficult to define what a child’s best interests are. Additionally, the custody option one party claims to be in the child’s best interest can almost always be disputed.
The process of determining child custody can be difficult for everyone involved. However, the motivation behind any child custody action initiated by you, your ex-spouse or the court should be to create the best possible situation for your child.